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De Bernardinis Coat of Arms / De Bernardinis Family Crest

This Italian name is now extremely widespread in very many forms, but the name was originally derived from the Germanic given name Bernhard, composed of the elements ber and hard, meaning brave, hardy and strong. The popularity of the given name among the Normans following the Norman Conquest of 1066, was greatly influenced by virtue of its having been borne by St. Bernard of Clairvaux (c.1090-1153), founder and abbot of the Cistercian monastery at Clairvaux. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. Another sanctified bearer of the name was St. Bernard of Menthon (923-1008), founder of the Alpine hospices and the patron saint of mountaineers, whose cult accounts for the frequency of the name in mountainous regions. The name has been particularly common in Sussex, in England since the 17th century, where it was taken by settlers and anglicized to Barnard, and a Scots family by the name of Bernardes, can trace their descent back to a certain John Bernardes Corea (b.1778) who married the daughter of Robert Dunbar. According to family tradition he was descended from a sailor in the Spanish Armada who was shipwrecked on the coast of Scotland in 1588. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.

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last updated on: September 13 2018

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